Archive | November, 2009

A Good Night’s Sleep

25 Nov

I know this might be hard for some to understand, but Diana and I both got a GREAT night of sleep last night. Why, you ask?? Because Krissy is home!! Only for the second time since August, mind you, but she is home!

Don’t think we haven’t seen her. We’ve burned up the road between here and there. MANY times. But one of the things we’ve learned in her first semester away is that there is no more peaceful sleep than when we are ALL under one roof.

On another note, so far so good with the ankle. Some of my medical consultants at church advised me to take Motrin instead of Aleve. It has made all the difference in the world!!

One Crazy Weekend

23 Nov

HUNDREDS asked me yesterday, “What did you do to your leg??” I guess I need to answer the question here, and maybe I will have to answer it a little less when out and about!! The simple answer is “I am getting older and DUMBER.” But that answer never suffices out there, so here goes:

This past weekend we AGAIN returned to the Upstate. Last weekend we were up for Krissy’s 19th birthday and for Drew to run in the SC Junior Olympics. He qualified to move on to the regional meet, which was AGAIN at the Milliken Research Center in Spartanburg. During the week Diana was able to finagle enough tickets for us to go the the Clemson/Virginia game Saturday afternoon. The plan was to go up, take Krissy out to eat on Friday (and leave Lauren Kirven at Clemson with her), go to Milliken for Drew’s run, and make a mad dash for Death Valley to make it for gametime. Simple, right??

Friday night we picked Krissy up and began to seek a place for supper. And it was a GAME WEEKEND, so every restaurant in Clemson and Anderson was SLAMMED. (I wanted the Mellow Mushroom, but alas …) We FINALLY found Panera Bread in Anderson to be not so crowded. We entered to see the cashiers frantically trying to get the cash registers to unfreeze! The manager told us he was sorry, but it would be ten or fifteen minutes. WE WERE STARVING!! He gave us bread and free drinks while we waited, and that was the BEST BREAD!!

We had to then complete Krissy’s shopping list, so the only part of the UNC/Syracuse game I saw was while we were in Dick’s Sporting Goods. The little bit I saw gave me indigestion. My ‘Heels forgot rule number 1: IF YOU DON’T SCORE, YOU WON’T WIN. In the words of Charlie Brown, “AUGGGGGGGGGGGGGGH!”

When we got back to Easley, Mom and Dad were waiting up on us. Dad told me he needed us to help him get his Gator and his lawnmower out of the gully beside his house. (Don’t ask how they got there …)

Saturday morning, I woke Drew up early so we could get this stuff done and get to Milliken. Drew and I had to fight our way into the gully among the kudzu and briars. I told Drew to get on the lawnmower and crank it, put it in reverse, and I would push while he backed it out.

I’ve been fighting tendonitis in my right ankle for about a month. Every time it gets better, I forget and do something STUPID. Saturday was no exception … The first time I braced and pushed I felt something all too familiar in that ankle. And it hurt. And I thought, “Oh, crud … if I don’t get these things out of here I won’t be able to make it back down here.” So we raised the cutting deck on the mower, and I pushed the mower out on one foot.

The Gator would be a different story. It was stuck over a couple of logs. We had to put two boards under the right rear wheel then Drew got on it and put it in reverse. This time I had to grab it from behind and rock it off the logs while reminding Drew not to run over me, to be careful. He was. If not for Drew, that Gator and mower would still be stuck.

At some point I realized I would have to get that Gator out if I wanted to get back to the house. I drove it back while Drew drove the mower. But I knew I would never be able to walk in to my seat at the stadium, so the game was out for me … 😦

It worked out pretty well for Krissy. One of her friends lost their tickets, so she was able to get in and sit with Lauren in the Dorriety’s seats. Drew used mine and I sat in a recliner ALL DAY with my foot propped up.

And THAT is why I could barely walk yesterday at church …

Is your heart in it?

20 Nov

Friends have asked me over the past few months why I haven’t blogged as often as I did in the months before. I’ve given a variety of answers, but today — THE TRUTH. My heart just hasn’t been in it!

Not that I don’t enjoy blogging, but I really do blog from my heart. And in the past few months there have been things on my heart that I’ve not been able to blog about! One of the closest things to my heart has been Krissy’s move to Clemson. She really is doing well right now, but I couldn’t have truthfully written that a few months ago. She has overcome several obstacles (MOST of which was out of her control to begin with) and (knock wood) she is doing really well right now.

Another issue that has my concern is the economy. And our church. And, SPECIFICALLY, how folks at Ebenezer will respond to the economy. Here we are, stepping out in great faith in a building program at EBC and some use the economy as an excuse to STOP giving to the Lord. Is our faith really that conditional??

But, back to that heart thing … We tend to jump in when our heart is in it, and we migrate away from things when our heart is not. Is YOUR heart in it?

What can we do about it? There are times when there is nothing you CAN do but pray. And WE SHOULD PRAY! But there are also times when we CAN do something about the funk life puts us in. I guess what separates the men from the boys is knowing when we CAN do something, and having the wisdom and discipline to DO IT!

When all else fails, there is ONE CONSTANT. ONE THING we can do with all else fails … FOLLOW GOD UNCONDITIONALLY. Is YOUR HEART INTO THAT??

Today’s Funny

18 Nov

A recent bride called her mother one evening in tears.

“Oh, Mom, I tried to make Grandma’s meat loaf for dinner tonight, and it’s just awful! I followed the recipe exactly, and I know I have the recipe right because it’s the one you gave me. But it just didn’t come out right, and I’m so upset. I wanted this to be so special for George because he loves meat loaf. What could have gone wrong?”

Her mother replied soothingly, “Well, dear, let’s go through the recipe. You read it out loud and tell me exactly what you did at each step, and together we’ll figure it out.”

“Okay,” the bride sniffled. “Well, it starts out, ‘Take fifty cents worth of ground beef’…”

How do I follow this funny? I could write about the economy, but we ALL know its in the tanker. I could write about times changing, but that would be too close to home.

How about this thought … Sometimes we have to let go of the literal and grasp the bigger picture. Had that poor bride really THOUGHT about what amount fifty cents worth of ground beef would’ve been in her grandmother’s early days she would’ve had no problem with that recipe.

What part of the big picture do YOU not see? Are you wise enough to back up and see things for what they really are?? Think about it!

Had a dream …

17 Nov

I guess I need to contact Joseph. I had a dream last night about a situation in my life, something really beneath the surface. And it was weird …

I do not believe myself to be clairvoyant or anything, but this type of dream often moves me to action. I don’t know what I will do with this one, but here goes:

I was talking to a friend at a local company and we were discussing how the economy and particularly the Dow Jones Industrial Average influences the local church … (Yeah, I know. I had a chicken burrito at Moe’s for supper last night.)

Anyway, when I asked him who the steward of that data was he transferred me to a man (who has NEVER been a member of Ebenezer) but who is one of my least favorite people in Florence. I found myself on the phone with him and he said something really insulting (as he would). I responded by telling him I knew things had not been good between us and I just wanted to clear the air. So I did. And then he put me on hold.

And I held. And I held. And I held. And then my alarm went off and it was time to get up. And when I woke up, I was thinking, “that dude is SUCH A JERK!”

All we can do is the right thing when dealing with others. And we are not responsible for their response to it. And I am sure my subconscious is telling me something else in all of this. And if that is true, I will be having more dreams that I remember vividly in the near future!

Yes, I am old

16 Nov

This weekend had a crazy pace: Late leaving Florence Friday, drove like maniacs to get to Clemson, took Krissy and friends out to eat at this really good (and reasonable) Italian place downtown, then to Mom and Dad’s house. Saturday morning we woke up, drove to Milliken Research Center in Spartanburg where Drew qualified in the SC Junior Olympics to run in the REGIONAL meet next weekend (again, in Sparkleberry). Then spending the day with Krissy. It was the FIRST TIME in over a month that I’d actually SEEN her in person and the first time since AUGUST that we spent time with her alone!! It was a great day!

Krissy was diagnosed with Swine Flu last Wednesday but was feeling okay. Still taking Tamiflu and still coughing a little. But it was so good just to get to talk to her and for us to be together as a family. I slept Saturday night SO WELL, just knowing that all four of us were under the same roof!! (She stayed in Clemson on Friday to go to the basketball game after supper)

Sunday we went to church with her at Crosspoint. Really enjoyed the worship service! Got to see Joel and Allyson Fowler AND saw one of Wes’ old friends who laughed with me about his going to seminary!! (Not that it is funny, but Wes always SWORE seminary wasn’t for him! God has a great sense of humor!!!)

Amid ALL of this, my ankle tendonitis flared up Friday and I was walking like Chester from Gunsmoke most of the weekend. (The Chester reference is PROOF enough that I am old)

When Krissy turned 18, it really hit me … Now that she is 19, I am accepting the fact that I am old! But I’m not in the grave yet!! But I am tired … Yes, I am old!

The REST of the story

13 Nov

Many thanks to my FB and Twitter friends for all of their stories about WACS. There were clearly stories that needed to be told!! As for my story, there is so much more I could’ve written. I really only shared about 10% of the details … and I don’t think I should share the rest right now.

I was motivated to write that story after discovering a friend and fellow pastor in Florence who’d attended Shannon Forest across town. He had never heard of WACS and graduated in the 90’s. And I thought it sad that my beloved school had virtually disappeared from the Greenville scene and no one knew why!

And now to pay the piper: I know some who will be angry with me for writing those words. That’s okay: I will stand before God one day KNOWING that everything I wrote in that story IS TRUE. I wrote NOTHING that I didn’t hear or see FIRSTHAND in that account. And even with those words, I know some that will not believe me. And that’s okay … I know the truth!

There was something else. Something that happened after that meeting Diana and I had with the pastor … A few months after all this happened, we saw an old friend from WABC. It was good to see him and talk to him. After some surface chit-chat, he said something that almost flew right over my head. He said: “And, by the way, I heard that story about you guys and I KNOW it’s not true.” And I was standing there, grinning like an idiot. And I asked, “What story?” To make a long story short, there was a little ditty going around the church about Diana throwing books at someone in that meeting (and it wasn’t me!)

That was fascinating, because I was in that meeting. I walked in with Diana at the beginning, and I watched her leave the room in tears at the end. And SHE NEVER THREW ANYTHING in that meeting, and neither did I!! Hmmph!!

All that is left to consider is how will all of this impact those “Conquering Cavaliers” that were absolutely LOVED by two pastors at WABC, Dan Greer and Eddie Greene?? We can choose to be BITTER … or we can choose to be BETTER.

I think I will choose the latter!!!

It’s all about ME … right???

13 Nov

We all live life in the first-person … Words like “I, me, mine” are never far from our lips. This is a fact of life and is our nature. And it not necessarily evil … This is the way our operating system is put together. It’s impossible for me to LITERALLY see life from your perspective!

One of the delicate balances required of those who follow Christ is the balance between living a ME-centered life and living a CHRIST-centered life. And it takes discipline. If left to whatever slips out of our minds and mouths, we will be very me-centered. But Jesus said if we come after Him, we must DENY OURSELVES, TAKE UP OUR CROSSES, and FOLLOW HIM.

So, where our lives, our perspectives, and everything in our natures say “ME,” following Christ demands we see things from HIS perspective, that we try with all our might to see His big picture, and act accordingly. If HIS perspective is our discipline, if we are indwelled by HIS Spirit, if we truly are FOLLOWING HIM, then our words and actions will reflect HIM.

So, maybe it’s not really all about me???

Washington Avenue Christian School

12 Nov

I blog today to pay a debt. A debt I’ve owed for some time now … To an institution that is long gone. To people I hardly ever see, but I do get to relate to some of them on Facebook. And I owe this place, as do many of them.

Washington Avenue Christian School was founded some time around 1970. It was borne out of a vision God gave Dan Greer, a wonderful pastor and leader for many years at Washington Avenue Baptist Church in Greenville, SC. God burdened Dan with the emptiness of the halls of that church during the week and the vision of Christ-centered education. Dan and the church obeyed and God blessed that ministry.

THOUSANDS of families were touched by that ministry over the next two decades. There are many, many names of faculty members and adults that worked hard to help that vision succeed, but make NO MISTAKES, God’s hand was the reason that vision became reality.

That school was a tremendous part of my life. I look at who I am today and know that school made its mark on me. Teachers at that school helped to mold me. They are partially responsible for the pastor I am today (at least, the good parts). And I thank God for them.

This past spring brought the 25 anniversary of my graduation around. Sadly, there is no longer a school to celebrate, no longer a homecoming to attend. There was a reunion of sorts a few weeks ago, but I was unable to attend because of family obligations.

All of this brings me to my point. The debt, so to speak. There is a story to tell, a story that all of us in the kingdom of God need to hear …

Why did this school close???

The year was 1991. I was an active member of Washington Avenue Baptist Church, and a very active youth worker. My vocation was computer programming, and honestly, I was running from a call to ministry. I also had the privilege that year of being the first WACS alum to serve on the Board of Trustees.

We had a good year. Finances were good and we were even considering starting a retirement fund for the teachers. Everything was clicking on all cylinders when I got a phone call … The school was CLOSING! Even though it took a vote of the church to open the school, the relatively new pastor decided to close it. And did so. And no one stood up. The school was financially in the black, but it was being closed. As a young adult full of passion for that ministry, I went to the pastor (and I use the term very loosely) and asked him why?? He told me, and I quote, “Because we don’t need all those kids walking the halls every week and dirtying up this place! We’ve got to keep this place clean for all the church-shoppers that visit on Sunday!” I could not believe my ears!! (And, it was the first time I’d ever heard the term “church shoppers!”) He ended the meeting by telling us, and again I quote, that missionaries are “nothin but a bunch of preachers that couldn’t control their churches!” At the time, Diana’s aunt and uncle were missionaries in Caracas, Venezeula, so you can imagine how that ripped our hearts out. By the way, I think missionaries are AWESOME and are some of the bravest people I know!!!

Consequently, the church took a real turn at that point. Some people I dearly loved were fired from the staff, (YES, they resigned but were forced) and some people I once respected fell right in line with all of this. I stood up for the first time EVER in a church business meeting when I heard the explanation of all of this as “We are sacrificing the FIVE we might reach right now with the Christian school for the 500 we will reach down the road with the improvements this will bring!” For the first time in my life, the Holy Spirit took control of my mind because I responded with something I am NOT SMART ENOUGH to come up with: I stood up and said “My God is big enough to reach the FIVE AND THE FIVE-HUNDRED.” No one appreciated my statement, except my loving bride.

After that, the pastor started some rumors about Diana and me. We’d already left this church I loved. We had to. I stopped running from God when He got me into this corner and said “I need people like YOU in the ministry.” And the rest is history! Washington Avenue Baptist Church, which was once my home, had a rough time but God has raised up a new pastor and a new culture in that church. It seems to be doing well and I pray for that, because I have never stopped loving it.

So, there is my story. A debt paid. What can we learn from this story?? Think about it.

A Lack of Faith

10 Nov

One of the most difficult tasks of any pastor is leading others to remain strong in their faith. We read the stories of the Children of Israel in the OT and cannot understand how they could have so little faith in God, considering all they had seen, and yet WE ARE JUST LIKE THEM. And it is very frustrating!!!

I love Ebenezer with all my heart. And there are times when I feel caught in the middle. Some people are very factual and black & white with their belief … And times are tough right now. And we all face challenges in every facet of our lives … And it would be so easy to rely on what we think ought to be and proceed in that direction. And the last time I checked, our church is a THEOCRACY: We FOLLOW GOD. I pray that we will let Him worry about the small stuff and just FOLLOW HIM!!

And then, on the other side of the trap, are some who seem to see no future in things. God is a convenience to them, and as long as He is wrapped up in a package they like, an easily-consumable God who is 50% less filling, 70% more cost efficient, and will stay out of 90% of their lives!! The flu season has hit Ebenezer hard this year. I’ve had some tell me they will be back when flu season is over because the CLC said we should avoid public places!! (Does flu season ever end??) I wish I could’ve pulled that one when I was in high school, but good thing I didn’t because I would be even DUMBER than I am today!!!! 🙂

Seriously, when someone is sick, they are sick … They need to stay home if that is the case. But are there some that are merely using this as today’s excuse??

And then, in the middle with me, are some really cool people who see the value of ministry, the value of allowing God to be in control of their lives. And it shows. And I LIVE FOR THESE FOLKS!!! God uses you guys to keep me going, to keep me focused, and I am SOOOOOO thankful for all of you!!!! (And a bunch of those folks read this blog … you know who you are!!) And I want YOU to be encouraged just as you encourage me!! And even if it is just us in the fight, we fight His fight, we build His way, and we strengthen each other with our faith. And I couldn’t make it without you guys … You are a gift from God to me!!

So, which are you in all of this?? And who do you WANT to be?? The great thing about this is YOU CAN CHANGE WHO YOU ARE IN THIS!! HAVE FAITH!!!!!